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Conservation congress kicks off with dire warning on biodiversity Share on Facebook
The world must act quickly if it is to brake an unprecedented die off of the Earth's animal and plant life that could have dire consequences for humans as well, top conservationists warned on Sunday.

by Fairfax - Tuesday, 7 October 2008

"There is a clear sense of urgency," Valli Moosa, president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and a former environment minister from South Africa, told the opening session of the World Conservation Congress here.

"We must push our conservation movement to step up to the 21st century challenges, and meet the twin menace of climate change and the degradation of ecosystems," he said at the opening ceremony.

More than 8,000 ministers, UN officials, NGOs, scientists and business chiefs have gathered in the Spanish city of Barcelona to brainstorm for 10 days on how to slow the rate of species extinction and steer the world onto a path of sustainable development.

The congress, held every four years, will release an update on Monday of the benchmark "Red List", deemed the global standard for conservation monitoring.

The 2007 edition already shows more than a third of 41,000 species surveyed are facing extinction: a quarter of all mammals, one out of eight birds, one out of three amphibians, and 70 percent of plants.

The new biodiversity "bible" -- compiled from the work of 1,800 scientists -- is even grimmer, say researchers who took part in the effort.

Conservation work can no longer be confined to the narrow task of saving animals and plants from extinction, Nobel Peace laureate Mohammad Yunus told AFP before addressing the convention.

"Conservation of nature cuts across everything -- the sustainability of the planet, of the lives of poor people, and the environmental degradation that is harming nations," said Yunus, who was awarded the Nobel for helping to spread the practice of microcredit for poor people around the world.

With 11,000 volunteer scientists and more than 1,000 paid staff, the IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the globe to monitor and help manage natural environments.

Valli Moosa


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